Following a bumper 2013, 2014 once again marked a year of success for the UK automotive industry.
Fresh investments were committed: Jaguar Land Rover announced a £3.5 billion investment into the UK supply chain to support production of its new Discovery Sport. In Dagenham, Ford invested a further £190 million into the £490 million project to produce its range of low carbon engines, recruiting a further 250 employees to its 2,000-strong workforce.
New car registrations in 2014 were the highest in a decade, rising 9.3% to reach more than 2.47 million for the full year. The UK remained the second largest market in the EU, surpassing the region’s 5.7% average growth. SMMT expects growth to be more moderate in 2015 as the market reaches a sustainable level.
2014 saw a significant rise in demand for alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs). In particular, registrations of plug-in cars – in other words, pure electric, plug-in hybrid and range extender vehicles – quadrupled from 3,586 in 2013 to 14,498 in 2014. With a rapidly growing number of models to choose from (now more than 20 compared with just six in 2011), this is one area of the market that looks set to continue growing strongly.
Government continued to support ultra low emission vehicles in 2014 – in terms of both market and R&D capability in the UK – with significant investments in new technology and infrastructure. In October, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) announced an £11 million investment to develop the infrastructure for hydrogen vehicles in the UK, while in his Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced additional funding for ultra low emission technology and further charging points across the country.
UK automotive manufacturing data for 2014 will be released on 23 January, with figures for January to November showing car production slightly down on the first 11 months of 2013. With several UK vehicle and engine manufacturers currently in the process of re-tooling for the production of new models and investments being made into R&D, the next 12 months are expected to see production return to growth.
Global demand for the UK’s high quality automotive engineering and diverse range of products remains strong: 80% of cars built in the UK are exported to more than 100 countries worldwide. This diversity – and the growth of premium and specialist vehicle manufacture – has led to a doubling of the export value of UK-built cars in the past decade, In June, SMMT revealed that the average car exported in 2013 was worth more than £20,000, compared with around £10,000 in 2004.
With more investments into UK production set to take hold and a growing domestic market, 2015 is set to be another strong year for our thriving industry.